The Human body is a fine-tuned system of interactions between billions of cells and understanding molecular processes in biological systems of humans and animals has been a challenging task.
At cellular level each cell has tiny receptors that enable it to sense its environment, so it can adapt to new situations.
“Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka are awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family of such receptors: G-protein–coupled receptors”. (Quoted from The Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesPRESS RELEASE2012-10-10).
Robert J. Lefkowitz, U.S. citizen. Born 1943 in New York, NY, USA. M.D. 1966 from Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute. James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Biochemistry, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.
Brian K. Kobilka, U.S. citizen. Born 1955 in Little Falls, MN, USA. M.D. 1981 from Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. Professor of Medicine, and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA. Shared a Nobel Prize in Chemistry the year 2012 for “for studies of G-protein–coupled receptors”.
Hormones such as adrenalin had powerful effects: increasing blood pressure and making the heart beat faster.
How the cells perceive signals from hormones ?
Receptor for adrenalin: β-adrenergic receptor was located by Lefkowitz using iodine isotopes to various hormones.” Kobilka isolated the gene that codes for the β-adrenergic receptor from the gigantic human genome” This receptor was similar to one in the eye that captures light. This lead to realization that there is a whole family of receptors that look alike and function in the same manner.
This family of receptors is referred to as G-protein–coupled receptors.
“About a thousand genes code for such receptors, for example, for light, flavour, odour, adrenalin, histamine, dopamine and serotonin".
About half of all medications achieve their effect through G-protein–coupled receptors. Histamine important in allergy; dopamine important in cell transmission and used in treating Parkinson's for example; serotonin, for light and dark are sensed by G-protein coupled receptors.
The studies by Lefkowitz and Kobilka are crucial for understanding how G-protein–coupled receptors function.
Furthermore, in 2011, Kobilka achieved another breakthrough; he and his research team captured an image of the β-adrenergic receptor at the exact moment that it is activated by a hormone and sends a signal into the cell. This image is a molecular masterpiece – the result of decades of research.”
( Quotes from Press release, Further information: http://kva.se and http://nobelprize.org) .
The methods developed by Dr. Kobilka could be used to study other G-protein-coupled neurotransmitter receptors which play roles in depression, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, stroke and other conditions.
Further information: http://kva.se and http://nobelprize.org) and relevant publications:
*Rasmussen SGF et al. "Crystal Structure of the Human beta2-Adrenergic G-Protein-Coupled Receptor." Nature, November 15, 2007, Vol. 450, pp. 383-387.
**Cherezov V et al. "High-Resolution Crystal Structure of an Engineered Human beta2-Adrenergic G-Protein-Coupled Receptor." Science, November 23, 2007, Vol. 318, pp. 1258-1265.
**Rosenbaum DM et al. "GPCR Engineering Yields High-Resolution Structural Insights into beta2-Adrenergic Receptor Function." Science, Science, November 23, 2007, Vol. 318, pp. 1266-1273.
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